Thanksgiving Day – 2017

Thanksgiving_grace_1942I am on Cape Cod this Thanksgiving Day, with my wife, her mother and some of her siblings, nephews and nieces.  After a wet drive from the South Shore the night before, this day has been sunny, clear, crisp and cool. In the morning we went to the local Catholic church, and attended a Thanksgiving Mass.  My wife, Peg’s father passed away in October, so after Mass, we visited his grave.

As I write this, various members of the family have bringing their donations for this Thanksgiving tableevening’s dinner.  Food is being prepared, table cloths spread out, and the table has been set.  With all this activity, I have begun to reflect on the meaning of Thanksgiving Day.  Some trace it roots to the English Reformation, during the time when the Puritans had strong influence over the Church of England.  Holy days were done away with; to be replaced by Days of Fasting during times of national tragedies, or stress, and Days of Thanksgiving for good harvests and national victories.  The Pilgrims brought these practices with them to New England.  Various colonies and then states would proclaim days of Thanksgiving.  Abraham Lincoln would issue a presidential proclamation, establishing Thanksgiving as a holiday throughout all the states.

Thanksgiving Day was meant to be a time of both feasting, and prayer.  But as with Christmas and Easter, Thanksgiving has fallen prey to commercial interests.  Stores, car dealerships, you name it, sponsor special “Thanksgiving sales,” using the images of Pilgrims, Indians, pumpkins and turkeys to promote their wares.  Groups of people have a different approach to the day.  The Massachusetts town of Plymouth has a community parade celebrating the day; Native Americans hold a Day of Mourning.

May it be time to try to bring back the spiritual aspect of Thanksgiving?  Whether you are a Christian or not; a believer or not; we all need to have time reflect on what good has happened in our lives this past year, if only to counter the negative experiences we may have had.  As a believer, this day makes me aware that all Creation is gift; that our lives are gift; gifts from a loving God.  Sometimes, circumstances may lead us to doubt that, but life is a gift, and God still cares for us, in wondrous and mysterious ways.  And I am grateful for that.

As I walk around and see the woods and fields in autumn; when I look up into the evening sky, studded with stars, I am moved to thank God for the awesome beauty I am seeing.  I close with a prayer from the writings of St. Francis of Assisi.  Not exactly a Thanksgiving prayer, but I think it is appropriate for the day:

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor,
and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

(Canticle of the Sun)

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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The Tragedy of Las Vegas – “And Jesus Wept.”

And Jesus weptThe tragedy of what has occurred in Las Vegas, the enormity of it, has yet to be fully felt by many of us.  The raw power of the images we have seen on television, our computers, and tablets; has hit us all in the gut.  The politics, the partisan speeches, the proposals; they will, they must come, but later.  Right now, we need to mourn for those who have died, We need to help the wounded, and the survivors.  We need to stand with those who have lost loved ones.  We need to come together as a nation, as a people; in the face of such evil.

Psalm 57  (Confident Prayer for Deliverance)

Have mercy on me, God,
have mercy on me.
In you I seek refuge.
In the shadow of your wings, I seek refuge
till harm pass by.

I call to God Most High,
to God who provides for me.

May God send help from heaven to save me,
shame those who trample upon me.
May God send fidelity and mercy.

I must lie down in the midst of lions
hungry for human prey.

Their teeth are spears and arrows;
their tongue, a sharpened sword.

Be exalted over the heavens, God;
may your glory appear above all the earth.

Eternal rest grant onto them, O Lord! And let perpetual light shine upon them!  Through the mercy of God, may they all rest in peace.

Francis crys

9/11 – An Anniversary of Sorrow and Loss

Our Lady of Sorrows 911Today is the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States that changed this country for years to come.  Never, in the history of the Republic, were so many civilian lives lost through such brutal acts.  There have been other attacks on this country since then, but this particular assault will remain seared in our memories for ages to come.

We pray for the souls of those family members, friends, fellow Americans who were lost.  We pray for those who still grieve for the loss of loved ones.  We grieve for our country, still bearing the scars of that day.  We pray:

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
Poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send up our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy toward us;
And after this our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.  Amen.

 

Weekend Coffee Share – 8/6/2017

Here is a cup of coffee, fresh from the Keurig.  This weekend my wife, Peg, and I are at her parent’s home on Cape Cod.  The trip down was a little wet; but it dried up when we crossed the Cape Cod Canal over the Bourne Bridge.  The weather today was cool and sunny.  

August is the month my wife’s siblings and their families gather for  a get together.  It is a time to re-establish contacts with each other.  

For me, it is also time for a bit of retreat; to catch up on my reading and to enjoy the peace and quiet of the Cape.

Over a cup of coffee, I would share that I am currently reading a book by Krista Tippett, host of the public radio program, “On Being,” entitled “Speaking of Faith;” which was the original name of the program.  In the book, she shares how she came to rediscover the importance of spirituality in human life, and in her life especially.  She shares some of the insights she has received through her interviews with people of all walks of life and faiths.  I hope to share insights I have received in future postings.  

Over a cup of coffee, I would share that I intend to read more books during the rest of this year. I have entered a reading challenge on my Goodreads site for 2017.  I have aimed low, intending to read 8 books between now and the end of the year.  Hopefully, I will have exceeded that goal when New Year’s Eve 2018 comes around.

Over a cup of coffee, I would share that I am still looking for a  new deacon assignment.  It feels different participating in the Mass as a member of the congregation, and not at the altar.  And actually, that is not a bad thing.  Hopefully, by the end of next month, there will be a change in the situation.
Well, the cup is empty and in the dishwasher rack.  Until the next time; blessings and all good.

Tragedy on a Baseball Field

Most of us have heard and seen reports of the tragic shooting of a Republican congressman, and the wounding of others.  This took place on a community ball field, where the congressmen were practicing.  They were getting ready for a traditional ball game between Republican and Democratic members of Congress.  It was to be a friendly game, free of the rancor and spite that seems to have taken hold of the halls on Capital Hill.  The Speaker, addressing a session of the House of Representatives, declared an attack on one member, is an attack on all members of the House.
I would go further, a violent attack against a member of Congress, is also an attack against us all; whom he or she represents.  The superheated rhetoric in our politics today.  The lack of civil discourse and the lack of give and take; threatens the fabric of our civil society.

We Christians need to both go through a conversion of manners and be an example to others.  A conversion because we need to admit that we, in our speech and actions, may have contributed to the heat.  We then must show to others what it means to love one another; recognize the other as brother and sister in Christ.

“Cry Havoc…!”

Tonight, the country learned that President Trump ordered the launching of cruise missiles against a Syrian air base.  This was in response to the Syrian government’s air strike, with gas bombs, against civilians in rebel held territory.

I will be the first to admit that I am split personality in my reactions to this.  The pacifist in me fears that this is the first step to a deeper conflict.  The realist in me acknowledges that the Syrian government must learn that there is a price to pay when they use deadly gas against civilians.  One has only to look at the pictures and videos of gasping, dying children; to realize something needed to be done.  But now that the missles have flown, what happens next?  Do we have a Commander in Chief who will know what to do, now that he has “….let slip the dogs of war.”  I hope so; but in the meantime, I will add my prayers to countless others, that the Father will guide us and protect us:  

I raise my eyes toward the mountains.  From where will my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

The Lord will guard you from all evil, will always guard your life. The Lord will guard your coming and your going, both now and forever.   (Psalm 121: 1-2, 7-8)